John Cleese on Soccer vs. Football

Or as I like to call it, futbol vs. football.



The wonderful thing about football is how creative it is; and this is why it has never caught on in America.  You see, in America the action is deliberately kept short so that the sponsors can get in as many commercials as possible, and also so that the players don’t have to think for too long.  They get instructions from the quarterback who has in turn received them from the offensive coach.  No one has to think for themselves–this is the Dick Cheney version of creativity, otherwise known as, “doing exactly what you’re told.”

So, you get four seconds of extremely violent action and then the only genuinely creative activity involved: a beer commercial.  So, American football is played like a series of advertising jingles while soccer is played like jazz.  And while we’re on the subject, why do the Americans insist on calling it “soccer”?  Why do they have such a problem calling it “football?”  It’s a game played with a ball that is struck with the foot, hence foot ball.

Are you following this, America? The clue is in the title;  it’s not that difficult.  Whereas “American football,” as they call it, is a game where an object that’s not really a ball at all, it’s the wrong shape for a ball*, is carried around by hand and occasionally thrown for other people to catch in their hands, you see.  Only one person in each team is actually allowed to kick the ball and they have to be specially brought onto the field to do it.  I suppose in its own way that is a form of creativity; it’s quite a creative use of language, you know saying one thing and meaning something completely different.

From The Art of Football.


* John Cleese is right.  It’s not a ball, it’s a prolate spheroid.

10 thoughts on “John Cleese on Soccer vs. Football

  1. Christopher

    Cleese’s is a trenchant and witty take on le football américain, to be sure.

    Le football américain’s suitability for advertising beer and cigarettes and Humdees on prime time television is no doubt a big factor in its popularity. But a bigger reason is that le football américain is simply an integral part of la culture américaine, as much as mother, home and apple pie.

    The Battle of Guadalcanal was won on the football fields of Princeton, you might say.

    Why has le football américain not translated successfully to other lands, as has le base-ball? Perhaps, due to all that expensive padding and equipment, you have to be a man of means, or have a mother and father of means, to play it?

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      Humdees? Peut-etre tu veux dire, “Humvee” ? ^_^ It’s no longer cool to own one.

      American professional football occupies a substantial portion of American culture, though some would argue college football is more integral. It certainly has a longer tradition.

      And speaking of baseball, it’s still dubbed the national pastime.

      1. Christopher

        Humvees…….bien sûr……..bien sûr……..tu as raison!!

        Because they’re no longer cool, this may be the perfect time for me to get one,
        because……..well………I’m just not un mec cool.

        Although le base-ball (le passe-temps national américain ) has sucessfully been exported to other lands – Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic – they aren’t nearly as many as the lands that le cricket (le passe-temps national anglais ) has been successfully exported to – India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, and pretty much all the other countries of the old Empire, on which the sun used never to set.

        Il n’est pas surprenant que, after futbol, le cricket is the most-followed game in the world.

        Since the lands that le base-ball and le cricket were successfully exported to, are lands once occupied and ruled by the lands where le base-ball and le cricket originally came from, can one conclude that le base-ball and le cricket are expressions of l’impérialisme culturel?

        Talking of l’impérialisme culturel, did you know that Shakespeare’s plays may be yet *another form of it?*

        1. sittingpugs Post author

          ….can one conclude that le base-ball and le cricket are expressions of l’impérialisme culturel?….

          C’est possible.

          I’d sooner say Christianity is imperialist than I would Shakespeare’s plays. Nobody had to adopt-or-die the ways of a different sovereign with the ‘ol Bard.

  2. Christopher

    The president of FIFA recently speculated on the possibility of *interplanetary futbol*.

    The article’s writer denigrates this idea because the various planets have such vastly different atmospheric conditions from each other. But, how about building hermetically-sealed stadiums on our neighboring planets, that would replicate Earth’s atmosphere? And why only futbol? Why not also football NFL style?

    To sit in a sports-bar of an evening, and, while nursing an ice-cold Stella Artois beer, to watch on a giant TV the Mercury Mactationers affronting the Venus Vapulators in the final of an interplanetary Superbowl played on neutral Saturn……….

    I have a dream…………

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      But, how about building hermetically-sealed stadiums on our neighboring planets, that would replicate Earth’s atmosphere? And why only futbol? Why not also football NFL style?

      I wondered the same things!

      And why limit it to sports games? Why not…oh, I don’t know, have interplanetary living/rehabilitating/imprisonment/backpacking?


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